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people) he must enter it with peculiar ceremonies. On that occasion, having bathed and arrayed himself in the habiliments of a common priest, he was first to offer for himself a young bullock for a Sin Offering. He was then to bring two kids, one of them designated by lot, to be sacrificed as a Sin Offering for the people, the other, called the “Scape-Goat,” to be let loose into the wilderness, after Aaron had laid his hands upon its head, and confessed over it “all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins.” The service concluded by the sacrifice of a ram as a Burnt Offering for the people, and another for the priest. The day was intended to serve the appropriate uses of a fast. It was a day of national humiliation and repentance for sin. And the ritual was accordingly of a nature to excite thoughtfulness and contrition. The confession of the people's sins by the high-priest, with the accompanying formalities, must especially have had an effectual tendency to this end.f
* Verse 1 seems to intimate, that this further precaution was consequent upon the irreverent behaviour of Nadab and Abihu. — The last clause in verse 2 is rendered by our translators, “I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy-seat.” I would render it more literally ; " for (or but] with a cloud [that is, the cloud of incense which the priest was to raise,] I will be seen (that is, visited) upon the mercy-seat.” The meaning is, not that there should be any miraculous manifestation of the Divine Being to Aaron, but that Aaron must not come into that which was His virtual presence, without observing those forms of which the burning of a cloud of incense made a part. Compare verse 13. What we read in various books about what is called the “Shekinah" upon the MercySeat, I take to be all unauthorized imagination.
† The word “ atonement,” (verses 10, 11,) which, from its use in technical theology, has come to have a different significance attached to it, denoted, at the time when our translation was made, simply reconciliation, of whatever kind it might be, between whatever parties, by whatever means effected. This was agreeable to its etymology; at-one-ment, that is, putting at one. Such was the use of the old writers. So Shakspeare says;
“ He seeks to make atonement Between the Duke of Gloucester and your brothers.”
The seventeenth chapter contains four laws, the first two relating to the slaughtering of animals for food at the door of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, and nowhere else; and the third and fourth, to abstinence from blood, and from the flesh of animals dying a natural death. But they are not, therefore, mere repetitions of the previous commands on the same subjects. The previous direction respecting the slaughtering of animals, had perhaps had reference only to such as were designed to be used in sacrifice, and it had been obligatory hitherto only on the Jewish people. It was now, for greater security, extended to strangers sojourning among them, and to the killing of animals intended to be used as food, a portion of every one of which (when of a suitable description) was now required to be presented as an offering. * The obligation of the third and fourth
Accordingly, in the use of the Mosaic Law, atonement is said to be made for whatever is reconciled to God, in the sense of being set right with him, — placed in a state of favor and acceptance with him. So things may be atoned for, as well as persons; it being a mistake to suppose, that there must be previous sin, in order to create a necessity for “atonement" in the Scripture sense. See Ex. xxix. 37; Lev. xiv. 53; xvi. 16, 18. — “ Eastward,” in verse 14, means “on the east side" of the mercy-seat, viz. that side which faced the Holy Place. - The ceremony of the “ScapeGoat,” in which commentators have so generally found a type of a doctrine of the Christian religion, appears to be but the continuation, with some change, of a custom with which the Israelites had become acquainted in Egypt. See Herodotus, lib. 2, § 39. A similar custom prevailed among the Persians. See Clasenius' “ Theologia Gentilis,” pars 1, cap. 7, § 2. And among the Hindoos, with whom the victim was a horse, instead of a goat. See Halhed's “Code of Gentoo Laws,” Pref. p. 16-20. To the same class of figurative ceremonies, which, with a substantial agreement, might be expected to present differences in the details, manifestly belongs the ritual described in Lev. xiv. 7, 53. - When the ceremonies of the day drew towards a close, it has been inferred from verse 24, that the high-priest was to clothe himself in his peculiar pontificals, having hitherto worn the dress of a common priest (verse 4) in token of humility, and for greater convenience in performing his sacrificial function. — In verse 29, we find the language customarily used concerning fasts. Compare Is. lviii. 5.
* To reasons for this provision, above enlarged on, (pp. 252 - 254,) I may
commands was also now extended, for the first time, to strangers, for the better securing of the Israelites against injury from the example of any of their neighbours, holding a different faith.*
The eighteenth chapter defines the law of chastity, with a special enumeration of the most heinous offences against it, and an express reference to the corrupt practices of the neighbouring nations in this particular, as requiring the more circumspection and strictness on the part of the Jews.f
In respect to domestic alliances, it is an error to suppose that the Jews might not contract them with women of other nations. The severest restriction of this kind which occurs, relates only to the seven nations of Canaan.f Polygamy, as is well known, was not forbidden; § but it was subject to obligations which kept it within limits,|| and, finally, as the state of things in our Saviour's add the following; It was desirable that these valuable animals should multiply, so as to stock the country of Canaan, when the people should arrive there; a result, which would be promoted by the inconvenience of having to repair to the Tabernacle of the Congregation to slaughter them, when they were slaughtered at all, and to devote a portion of them to sacrificial
A herdsman, at a distance from the central camp, would, for the most part, deny himself the luxury of feasting upon them, sooner than obtain the gratification at such cost and trouble.
Verses 11 - 14 I understand as follows ; viz. “I who quickened the principle of animal life, - in other words, who caused the blood to flow,
- have a right to say how it shall be used; and I do accordingly prescribe to you a rule respecting it. I have given you the blood of animals for only one use (11); the sacred use of an offering on my altar. Beyond that use, you have no control over it. Dispose of it then as I direct. Do not taste it yourselves (12); and what you may not offer upon the altar, put carefully out of the way of others (13).” — The substantial reason of the prohibition has been already mentioned. See p. 271. The form chosen for its enforcement (14), has reference to the same view which is set forth in Gen, ix. 4-6, where God, as the giver and sovereign of all life, animal and human, is represented as demanding that the blood, that preserves it, shall be respected as belonging to him.
| Lev. xviii. 2-5, 24-30. | Ex. xxxiv. 11-16. § Deut. xxi, 15.
|| See page 275, note. — The expressions, “ I Jehovah,” and “ I Jehovah your God,” (Lev. xviii. 4, 5,) in the form of a royal signature to an edict, VOL. I.
time shows, fell almost into disuse. In respect to the prohibited degrees of consanguinity, two or three provisions demand particular attention. A man is not forbidden to marry his wife's sister, except in his wife's lifetime; the latter provision having in view, as is distinctly intimated, to prevent a relation so tender as the sisterly, from being embittered by jealousy.* On the other hand, a woman might not marry her husband's brother, even, as appears, after her husband's death.t The reason of this arrangement is to be sought in the constitution of Jewish society. Brothers, and of course their wives, being members of the same family, attachments of a dangerous nature, encouraged by the hope of a future union, might come to be cherished, leading even to plots against the husband's life, unless the law placed its severest reprobation upon them, by declaring, that such a union would be no better than incestuous, even if the wife should be left at liberty by her husband's death. Again; for aught that appears, a man might marry his niece, but not either his paternal or maternal aunt; $ a distinction for which no more probable reason presents itself, than the general unsuitableness of such connexions from disparity of age, while at the same time the natural influence, exercised in the relation in question, over a youth's mind, might, unless the union were positively forbidden, be employed to bring it about. ||
occur frequently henceforward in this book, and a few times in that of Numbers, (as Numb. iii. 13, 45; x. 10.) Compare Gen. xli. 44. Lev. xviii. 18.
† xviii. 16. † We shall see, by and by (Deut. xxv. 5), that, in one case, a provision so absolute was made to yield either to an urgent reason of public policy, or, what is perhaps more likely, a fixed taste and habit of the people.
§ Lev. xviii. 12, 13.
| Also, the usual greater intimacy with an aunt than with a niece, might, in that unformed state of society, make this rule important, as an additional security against seduction under a promise of marriage. —
The nineteenth chapter contains a variety of laws, some of which we have previously met with in different connexions, while others were now promulgated for the first time.* The question why those belonging to the former class were selected from others, to be merely repeated, without variation or addition, would be one, which, from want of acquaintance with the circumstances of the time, we should be at a loss to answer. But that some reason should have existed for that course, is certainly nothing to surprise us. Nothing is more common, than for proclamation to be made of laws, which some occasion has arisen for bringing distinctly to a people's notice.t
Some of the new laws in this chapter appear, more or less clearly, to have had reference to heathen customs, being intended as further safeguards for the purity
Verse 11 has perplexed the commentators, because of their supposing it to be a mere repetition of 9. But I think it is not so. In a case of such importance, it was necessary to use every precaution against dishonest casuistry, for the same reason which justifies the verbosity of indictments and other legal instruments of the present day. Accordingly, the lawgiver having forbidden (verse 9) an alliance with the daughter, legitimate or illegitimate, of father or mother, repeats the prohibition, in verse 1), in respect to one who was daughter at once of father and mother. Verse 21 is explained by 2 Kings xxiii. 10; Jer. vii. 31 ; xxxii. 35; and Diodorus Siculus, (lib. 20, cap. 14,) and Quintus Curtius, (lib. 4, § 15,) allude to the same enormity among the Carthaginians. But the question remains, how the precept came to be introduced here, where it does not seem to be in place. I think that question cannot be satisfactorily answered. But it is very doubtful whether we have the genuine reading of the passage. The Septuagint version presents a different sense from the Hebrew, and the Syriac reading is materially different from both; and each repeats its own variation
Lev. xx. 2. * xix. 3-8, 11, 12, 26, 30.
† Also, I think it may be remarked, that, in some instances, an old command is repeated, in order to introduce a new one, the spirit and principle of which are the same. E. g. in verse 11, the command of the Decalogue, “ Thou shalt not steal” is repeated, in order to give it the wider extension of prohibition of other kinds of fraud; and, in verse 30, upon the older precept to keep the Sabbath is superinduced another, resting on similar grounds.